Review: Committed by Sidney Bristol

Committed: Drug of DesireCommitted: Drug of Desire by Sidney Bristol

My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review at The Romance Evangelist.

COMMITTED is the first book in Sidney Bristol’s new Loveswept romance series featuring couples who find love at a private BDSM retreat known as House Surrender. This first book pairs up an obsessed DEA agent looking to bring down a dangerous drug kingpin and a high school librarian still learning to be a fully independent adult after being raised in a closely guarded commune where her immediate family still lives without her.

When Damien Moana first spots Poppy Mercer musing over a romance novel while sprawled invitingly across a sofa in the House Surrender library, it’s all he can do not to immediately make her his, even after she informs him she’s a switch, not a submissive. After they engage in a BDSM scene more intense that either has ever experienced, Damien receives a message about a new chance to capture an elusive drug lord, and chooses his quest over Poppy, leaving her angry and vowing to forget him and that night. But Damien can’t forget Poppy, tracking her down only a few weeks later and eventually convincing her to continue exploring their mutual attraction in a Dominant/submissive relationship. What follows in COMMITTED is a passionate romance between two people who must prevail over the external forces conspiring to keep them apart, not the least of which is a sociopathic criminal bent on revenge against the man he blames for the death of his wife.

Damien and Poppy were what I loved the most about COMMITTED, and every moment they were together, both in and out of the bedroom, was when I was completely happy with the story. Their sexual chemistry is both compelling and convincing, and it never wavered for me even when Poppy was finally able to turn the tables and exercise her switch option on Damien in public. I would have been blissfully happy if the book focused entirely on their romance without the added distraction of the menacing drug lord and Poppy’s severely misguided hippie mother, but that’s not what was meant to be.

For COMMITTED is a romantic suspense story with a significant amount of the plot devoted to the object of Damien’s relentless pursuit lurking around every corner, and every scene foreshadowing his inevitable attempt to get to Damien through Poppy kept drawing my attention away from the romance. I understand the need to show exactly why Damien had been so intent on getting the evil drug lord off the streets for good. I also acknowledge that being resentful of anything not related to the actual romance is a problem I have with romantic suspense not necessarily shared by other readers. But the constant focus on the evil drug lord affected my enjoyment of COMMITTED to the point that I began skimming through any scenes not directly related to the romance. Then when the peril did find Poppy as predicted, what happened next seemed so drawn out to me that I wondered when we’d ever get to their happy ending. As a fan of epilogues, I was pleased to have one here, although it was somewhat jarring to have Poppy’s months of recovery only referred to in passing when we’d previously had to see her suffer in such exacting detail. But after all they’d both been through, it was gratifying to see Poppy and Damien come out whole on the other side, and it was their romantic journey that made COMMITTED work for me.

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Release Day: Committed by Sidney Bristol

COMMITTED by Sidney Bristol

COMMITTED: Drug of Desire
Written by Sidney Bristol
Published by Loveswept
August 12, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-553-39252-4

COMMITTED on Goodreads

In this erotic tale of sensuality and suspense, Sidney Bristol proves that desire can be the most dangerous drug of all.

DEA Special Agent Damien Moana works hard and plays even harder. But while indulging in forbidden temptations at a private BDSM retreat, the unexpected happens: He falls under a stranger’s spell. This woman drives Damien to distraction, pushing him to the sweet boundary between pain and pleasure. When duty interrupts their heated encounter, his focus turns to catching a criminal . . . but his head is still with the seductress who ignites his deepest desires. Now Damien must choose between closing the case of his career and losing the woman of his dreams.

Poppy Mercer can’t forget the night she spent with her mystery lover. When chance brings them back together, she seizes the opportunity to again feel his masterful hands on her body. Poppy is a switch who delights in dominating a powerful man . . . and submitting to the ecstasy of his control. Outside the bedroom, however, she questions her place in Damien’s world. His obsession with hunting a ruthless drug lord puts Poppy in the line of fire. And though Damien might be able to save her from danger, salvaging what’s left of her trust is another matter.

Committed is an erotic romance intended for mature audiences.

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Sidney Bristol

About Sidney Bristol

It can never be said that Sidney Bristol has had a “normal” life. She is a recovering roller derby queen, former missionary, and tattoo addict, and she grew up in a motor-home on the U.S. highways (with an occasional jaunt into Canada and Mexico), traveling the rodeo circuit with her parents. Sidney has lived abroad in both Russia and Thailand, working with children and teenagers. She now lives in Texas where she splits her time between a job she loves and writing, reading, and belly dancing.

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Review: Hillbilly Rockstar by Lorelei James

Hillbilly Rockstar (Blacktop Cowboys, #6)Hillbilly Rockstar by Lorelei James

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review at Seductive Musings.

Although I’m a big fan of Lorelei James’s McKay books, my heart will always belong to her Blacktop Cowboys, and HILLBILLY ROCKSTAR, the latest entry in the series, reminds me exactly why they are among my very favorites.

We’ve already met our hero and heroine in previous stories, but even if this is your first visit to the friends and family in Muddy Gap, you’ll have no trouble diving in to this wonderful romance. Both Devin McClain and Liberty Masterson hail from the same small town in Wyoming, but had never crossed paths until the day she was assigned to be his personal bodyguard. Now he’s got to let this frustrating bossy woman in every aspect of his life while continuing to entertain people all over the country one night at a time. Liberty’s still adjusting to civilian life after multiple tours in Afghanistan, and it’s only by keeping men at arm’s length that she’s been able to deal with the loss of the only man she’d let herself care about. Being around the deliciously attractive Devin every waking moment is wearing her down, and the last thing she needs is to let this man distract her from her duty. But when they finally succumb to their mutual attraction, it’s only a matter of time before a moment of weakness could put both their hearts and lives in danger.

One of the things I love the most about Lorelei James’s Blacktop Cowboys series is how people you only meet briefly in previous books can still be memorable enough to rate a story of their own later in the series. Both Devin and Liberty have been in the background here and there, but they come into their own beautifully in HILLBILLY ROCKSTAR. We knew Devin’s success as a rich and famous singer hadn’t changed how he behaved around his childhood friends in Muddy Gap, but that it had kept him from letting any woman get close enough to see the true man inside. That duality is all the more poignant here when we see how the loss of his younger sister had affected his relationship with his family and hindered his ability to love anyone else. But Liberty had just as much trouble trusting and loving for similar reasons after she saw how easy it was to lose a loved one in a war zone. So it was no surprise that it took the forced proximity of living on Devin’s tour bus and her task of keeping him safe before she could let herself give in to the irresistible sexual chemistry they shared. Yet what neither of them could know at that moment was that they had just each found the one person who could save them from their self-imposed solitude forever.

The best part of HILLBILLY ROCKSTAR was how we got to see both Devin and Liberty learn to let love back in, and that the choice they’d each made to keep their hearts safe was the last thing the people they’d lost would have ever wanted for them. There were several times where each had their tenuous hold on this new love tested, and each time they came back to try again was another mini-victory that made me cheer. Even the subplot of the possible threats against Devin’s life which had brought them together was kept at just the right level of suspense so that it worked to move the romance forward instead of forcing it into the background. By the time the tour is over and the threat neutralized, we know that Liberty and Devin will have to be together for the rest of their lives, even if it takes them a little more time to figure it out. And that’s when we get yet another perfectly orchestrated happy ending for two people that deserve every bit of it. HILLBILLY ROCKSTAR not only let me visit Muddy Gap for another sensuous and sentimental romance, it reminded me that you should never give up on love, and that’s just one of the many reasons why it’s among the best romances I’ve read in 2014.

Ratings:

Overall: 5
Sensuality level: 3.5

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Review: Taking It All by Maya Banks

Taking it All (Surrender Trilogy, #3)Taking it All by Maya Banks

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review at Seductive Musings.

This book contains spoilers for LETTING GO and GIVING IN, the first two books in the Surrender trilogy. You might be able to read TAKING IT ALL as a standalone, but I wouldn’t recommend it.
Finally, after all the buildup in the first two Surrender trilogy books, we get Chessy and Tate’s story here in TAKING IT ALL. After Carson Breckenridge died too soon in a tragic car accident, it was more than a year before both his widow Josslyn and his sister Kylie were able to find love and happiness with the two men who were already present in their lives. Now that all their good friends are settled and happy, it’s the already-married Tate and Chessy who are forced to confront their own growing isolation from each other, one that threatens to end their marriage if something isn’t done soon.

Tate and Chessy had always been one of the golden couples in their immediate group of friends and family, even as everyone was still in mourning for the loss of Carson. But Tate has been spending too many nights and weekends trying to build up his business and it’s Chessy who has paid the price. She’s put on a brave face for him and everyone else, not wanting to seem ungrateful for all his hard work even as she dies a little more inside each day. It’s only when they make arrangements for a rare night out alone together to celebrate their wedding anniversary that everything comes to a head. When Chessy spells out to Tate exactly why she is so angry with him, he seems to get the message and immediately starts trying to mend the breach before it becomes irreparable. Yet it will still take one more mind-boggling mistake on Tate’s part before he realizes exactly how much he’s failed Chessy, and what he must to do prove himself worthy as both her husband and Dominant once more.

TAKING IT ALL was the perfect mix of nearly everything I love: marriage in trouble, a D/s couple in love, and the steady hand of Maya Banks to make sure it all played out exactly as it should. Add to that another appearance of Damon Roche, my all-time favorite Maya Banks character, and it’s no surprise that I loved this book so much. Chessy suffered silently for much too long, hoping every day that the man to whom she had given her love and submission would come to his senses and return to her. Tate was genuinely clueless about how much he’d been hurting his wife as he believed he was helping them both by devoting every waking hour to running his company. Even when their initial showdown appeared to have set things right, it was clear that their reconciliation was a tenuous one, and I was just as worried as Chessy that Tate could slip up again. When he did so at the absolutely worst possible moment, I knew that a hero screw-up of this magnitude demanded an equally epic hero grovel, and Maya Banks did not disappoint. This realistic portrayal of a loving D/s couple’s painful falling out and hard-won reconciliation was the heart and soul of TAKING IT ALL, and it’s what made this final book in the uniformly excellent Surrender trilogy the very best one of them all.

Ratings:

Overall: 5
Sensuality level: 4

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Review: Looking For Trouble by Victoria Dahl

Looking for TroubleLooking for Trouble by Victoria Dahl

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for an honest review at Romancing Rakes for the Love of Romance.

Alex Bishop spent too much of his life in a nightmare that started the day his no-good father ran off with a neighbor lady, never to return. Alex’s mother was already in a precarious mental state, but being abandoned by her husband pushed her over that ragged edge into something close to full-blown madness. After finally finishing school even as his mother would attempt to drag him and his brother around on wild hunts for their missing father, Alex moved away and planned to stay gone for good. But when his brother contacted him about the discovery of his missing father’s body, Alex knew he had to come back to town just one more time before he could shake the dust of Jackson Hole, Wyoming off his boots forever.

Sophie Heyer has lived most of her life in a nightmare that started the day her no-good mother ran off with Alex Bishop’s father, leaving a husband and two children in a town that would never let the scandal completely die away. It took years for Sophie to trust that her stepfather would never kick her out, but even now she still tries to do everything for him and her brother in a never-ending attempt to prove herself worthy of their love. Now Alex’s mother has resurrected the years-old gossip with a misguided attempt at a memorial service for her late husband, making Sophie’s life a fresh hell to bear. But when the woman who won’t leave falls for the man who can’t stay, it’s anybody’s guess as to whether scorching sexual chemistry between a couple who should never have met can turn into something more.

This was my first visit to Victoria Dahl’s small town of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, but after LOOKING FOR TROUBLE it won’t be the last. So many small town romances focus only on idyllic and charming features of that genre, but as we see here, a small town also has a long memory, especially when its citizens behave in highly inappropriate ways. Alex and Sophie were both deeply damaged by the behavior of their respective parents, but they reacted in completely opposite ways. Yet what we see in LOOKING FOR TROUBLE is that when two people really love each other, they also try to be honest with each other, especially when they see the person they love making a huge mistake. It was just as bad for Sophie to ignore her own desires for a life away from Jackson Hole as it was for Alex to ignore his family’s need for him to visit and be a part of their lives. When Alex and Sophie first met, it was sex they had in common. And even though it was amazing mind-blowing sex, both of them still needed to grow up before they could even consider seeing each other again, let alone plan a possible future together. Their slow but convincing character growth is the core of a rather interesting story about old scandals and new beginnings. That’s what made LOOKING FOR TROUBLE both an entertaining and touching romance for me, and it’s why I’ll be going back to read Victoria Dahl’s other books in the Jackson Hole world as well.

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Review: One Sexy Ride by Vivian Arend

One Sexy Ride (Thompson & Sons, #2)One Sexy Ride by Vivian Arend

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided by the author for an honest review at The Romance Evangelist.

ONE SEXY RIDE is the second story in Vivian Arend’s new Thompson & Sons series, and it’s set in the same world as her previous Rocky Mountain series, but you don’t have to have read any of the previous books to be able to enjoy what’s here.

Janey has spent most of her life up until now pining after Len Thompson, all to no avail. He’s always been around her, being her good friend, but nothing more. What Janey really wants is that one true love to settle down with and raise a family, and she’s been convinced that Len is that guy. But what she’s never known is that even though he does secretly love her, that love is also why he’s continued to keep her at arm’s length. For Len has seen what happens when you lose your one true love, and he’s determined to never let that happen to him. So the last thing Len wants to do is love Janey, because losing her would be so much worse than not ever having her in the first place.

Tired of putting her life on hold for a guy who apparently doesn’t see in her what she sees in him, Janey has made plans to finish renovating her beloved family home, then sell it and leave town for good. Her decision to leave town, combined with a key moment when Len saves Janey from certain danger, makes him think that maybe he can at least have a taste of what he would never dare claim for good. But Janey’s heart is all in, and only time will tell if Len can move past his fear to commit to her before it’s too late.

One of the things I love about Vivian Arend’s books is her heroines and heroes are both strong and sweet. I never doubted for one minute that Len was worthy of Janey’s seemingly unrequited love, yet when he provided tangible proof of that worthiness near the very end of the story, it was all I could do not to melt in a puddle of happy tears at just how right I’d been. Len wants to love Janey – he really does! – but he’s just so terrified of being left without her that he’d rather push her away now than lose her for good later on. When Janey inevitably gets too close for comfort, the way Len tries to hasten her departure is so devastating that it demands an epic hero grovel to make things right. And let me tell you, Len’s grovel is easily one of the best I’ve read in a very long time. It isn’t just about how he shows how sorry he is, although that’s a big part of it. It’s also how he shows that he really does understand her as her own person, and how he’s been in love with her just as long as she’s been in love with him. Janey and Len’s romance is a great read all the way through, but the way they resolved their differences is what elevated ONE SEXY RIDE from merely a wonderful story to one of the best I’ve read in 2014.

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Review: Naughty Bits Part IV: The Highest Bid by Joey W. Hill

The Highest Bid (Naughty Bits, #4)The Highest Bid by Joey W. Hill

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review at Seductive Musings.

After three stellar installments, NAUGHTY BITS has reached its climax, the moment when Madison and Logan finally reach the happy ending that we’ve been anticipating for them all along, and boy howdy, do they ever. As they continued their careful dance toward each other and a complete Dominant/submissive relationship, it was clear they both wanted what was ahead, but that rushing it would only end in ruin. Logan has had what seems like infinite patience with Madison as she has traveled so far already, knowing that she must choose him instead of accepting his claim without question the way she’s always done before. It’s with that in mind that Logan is ready to give her the one fantasy she’s always dreamed of, the one she dared not speak aloud until he gained her trust to understand her desire and make it happen. It’s the ultimate mind-blowing experience for Madison, and although her brain knows it’s just roleplay, her body reacts exactly as she’d anticipated, leaving her to deal with the realization that what she feels for Logan is true love. But does he feel the same, or has she waited too long to commit?

As much as I loved the first three parts of NAUGHTY BITS, THE HIGHEST BID is definitely my favorite, and not just because it contains the long awaited HEA. Madison has had years to expand and refine her greatest fantasy of being sold at auction to an attractive Dominant military man and being shared by him with his closest friends. And that’s what Logan has provided for her, including a preliminary setup to get her in the right state of mind, and the best possible aftercare. I marveled at his attention to the smallest possible details, yet never lost sight of his ultimate goal to make Madison his in full by the end of the evening. There was also quite a bit of symbolism involved in Madison’s experience, with numeric references to the mistakes she’d made in her past, and how they’d helped her see that what she had now was what she truly needed. For it’s not just the D/s relationship that Madison fully embraces by the end of THE HIGHEST BID, but also the knowledge that the only person she could ever accept as her Master is Logan, the man she loves and who loves her in turn. Their happy ending is a perfect cherry on the delicious cake that is NAUGHTY BITS and the only thing I didn’t like was that their story had to end.

Ratings:

Overall: 5
Sensuality level: 4

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Review: The Bookseller’s Daughter by Pam Rosenthal

The Bookseller's DaughterThe Bookseller’s Daughter by Pam Rosenthal

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review at Night Owl Reviews.

Review Excerpt:

From the very start, Marie-Laure displays her unyielding spirit and indomitable will, and we see that despite her lowly status, it is clearly she who is too good for Joseph. But as THE BOOKSELLER’S DAUGHTER progresses, Joseph is forced to come to terms with his useless existence, and by the end, he has grown emotionally into a fully adult man worthy of her heart. Even though I had an idea of how and where they would ultimately end up together, the journey there kept me riveted the entire time, and made the seemingly inevitable ending even more enjoyable for me. It’s a wonderful historical romance well worth reading. (Copyright Night Owl Reviews)

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Review: Never Say Never ed. by Alison Tyler

Never Say Never: Tips, Tricks, and Erotic Inspiration for LoversNever Say Never: Tips, Tricks, and Erotic Inspiration for Lovers by Alison Tyler

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher for an honest review at Night Owl Reviews.

Review Excerpt:

As with most Cleis Press anthologies, the stories featured within NEVER SAY NEVER are uniformly entertaining and perfectly chosen to represent their individual topics. Those that were especially effective for me tended to explore less obvious ways to highlight their assigned topic. Charlotte Stein’s “Allowed” showed how being deprived of the one thing you want makes it the one thing you want even more. “Silk” by Teresa Noelle Roberts proves yet again that submission is just as much psychological as it is physical. And Dante Davidson reminds us in “No Shame” that knowing exactly what will happen next can be the best aphrodisiac ever.

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Review: The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy, #3)The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review at The Romance Evangelist.

The final book in Deborah Harkness’s fantastic All Souls trilogy is finally here, and it seems like it’s been forever since we last saw Diana and Matthew. THE BOOK OF LIFE picks up where SHADOW OF NIGHT left off, with our favorite witch and vampire returning to their current timeline and dealing with the aftermath of their actions back in Elizabethan England. To say more is to spoil, and I won’t do that. But be assured, all their past interactions are accounted for here in the present, even as time appears to start circling back on itself while the story hurtles toward its final confrontation between good and evil.

After Diana and Matthew began their improbable quest in A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES, and then stepped back in time for SHADOW OF NIGHT, no less than the safety of everyone on Earth was at stake in THE BOOK OF LIFE. Its landscape spans across time and space, and nearly every question posed in the first two books is answered in full. But what made the All Souls trilogy work so well for me was the romance between Diana and Matthew. Their love was forbidden, impossible, and irresistible. It should never have happened, should never have lasted, and yet by the end of this final book, we see how perfectly they fit, and how their romance wasn’t just fated, it was required in order to save the world and everyone in it. To take their love story out of THE BOOK OF LIFE would be like removing the first three pages of the Book of Life in the story itself; all the words would run together in search of the missing portion that made them all make sense. And to call THE BOOK OF LIFE one of the best romances I’ve read this year is no insult – it is the highest compliment I can pay. If you enjoyed the first two books in Deborah Harkness’s All Souls trilogy, this final book is the payoff you’ve been waiting for. If you haven’t read the other books, then you need to start now with A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES. I envy you the ability to read all three books in a row for the very first time.

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